In 2019, the Government set out a laudable goal. By 2030, their stated ambition is for England to be entirely smoke-free.
Smoking remains the leading preventable cause of illness and premature death in the UK, and is a primary driver of health inequality in England. However, in 2023, we are on a course to miss this target, with the recent Khan review on smoke free policies predicting that, on our current trajectory, around 7% of the UK – over 4.8 million people – will still smoke in 2030. The Government’s target is 5%.
Urgent change is needed if the Government is going to reach its smoke-free goal, reduce health inequalities and diminish the devastating impacts smoking has on people’s lives. Our white paper, Smoke without fire, has sought to identify ways of encouraging smokers to switch to e-cigarettes without introducing non-smokers to nicotine. Our proposals include:
- Significant expansion in public information campaigns promoting e–cigarettes as less harmful nicotine alternatives; including more investment from the Office for Health Improvements and Disparities (OHID). This would take inspiration from the annual Stoptober campaign, which has increased the number of smokers making quit attempts (2.3 million since 2012).
- Local authorities working with stop smoking services to target and provide adult smokers in deprived communities with free Swap to Stop packs. This has been trialled around the country, with a 2019 scheme in Greater Manchester finding that 62% of those who had used it had stopped smoking within four weeks.
- Government to modify Tobacco and Related Products (TRPR) and Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) regulations to allow government-approved messages promoting them as less harmful to be included both online and on inserts in cigarette packets.
Read the white paper in full here.